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Raymond Gray freed from prison 48 years after Detroit murder

Judge's gavel

Raymond Gray was released from the Muskegon Correctional Facility on Tuesday, after serving more than 48 years for a murder he always insisted he didn’t commit.

Gray was convicted of first-degree murderin the Detroit shooting death of Ruben Bryant in 1973, based solely on eyewitness testimony.

One of those witnesses later said two other men committed the murder. But another still maintains Gray did it.

Because credible evidence pointed to Gray’s innocence, but could not be proven, prosecutors cut him a deal. He pleaded no contest to a second-degree murder charge, and was released with time served.

“The no contest plea offer has been made in the interest of justice, as there is information and evidence that points to factual innocence, but cannot be corroborated,” said Gray’s attorney, Gabi Silver, in a hearing before Wayne County Judge Margaret Van Houten on Tuesday.

Gray, who appeared to struggle to hold back tears as the hearing neared an end, called it a “happy day.”

“Sometimes justice is blind, and sometimes justice is hard of hearing,” he said. “But if you touch justice, sometimes it works.”

“This is not an exoneration. However, this case does present many questions that cannot be answered,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement. “Looking at the time Mr. Gray has been incarcerated, we agreed to allow Mr. Gray to enter a no contest plea to Second-Degree Murder with a sentence agreement to time served. We wish him well.”

Valerie Newman, director of Wayne County’s Conviction Integrity Unit, said the other eyewitness who identified Gray as Bryant’s killer stands by her original testimony, and remains “adamantly opposed” to Gray’s release. But the victim’s brother supports it.

“Mr. Marvin Bryant says, of course, he misses his brother terribly, and has missed the opportunity to grow up with him and grow old with him,” Newman said. “He also thinks that Mr. Gray, even if he was the perpetrator, has done more than enough time. And he supports what's happening in court today, and he supports Mr. Gray's release.”

Gray was a talented artist and up-and-coming boxer before he went to prison at age 21. He’s now 69 years old.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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